Belarus Athlete Leaves Japan On Vienna-Bound Flight.

Belarus Athlete Leaves Japan On Vienna-Bound Flight

Tsimanouskaya declined to speak to the media at the airport (File)

Tokyo, Japan:

Belarusian Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya left Japan on a Vienna-bound flight Wednesday and was expected to head for Poland, where she has been offered a humanitarian visa.

The 24-year-old sprinter had been expected to take a direct flight to Warsaw but switched at the last minute, an airport official told reporters.

She boarded the flight at Narita airport outside Tokyo after travelling from the Polish embassy where she had spent the past two nights following claims her team tried to force her to return home after she criticised her coaches.

Tsimanouskaya declined to speak to the media at the airport, and her flight took off shortly after 11 am local time (0200 GMT).

The sprinter sought protection from Tokyo 2020 officials on Sunday, claiming she was being forced to return to Belarus, which has been wracked by political upheaval and a crackdown on dissent after disputed elections that returned strongman Alexander Lukashenko to power last year.

Tsimanouskaya was one of more than 2,000 Belarusian sports figures who signed an open letter calling for new elections and for political prisoners to be freed.

Her husband has now fled to Ukraine and the pair are expected to meet up in Poland, which is a staunch critic of Lukashenko's regime and has become home to a growing number of dissidents.

Tsimanouskaya arrived in Poland's embassy on Monday evening following a night spent in an airport hotel.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Tuesday he had spoken to the "courageous" Tsimanouskaya, who is "currently well taken care of and safe".

"I assured her that she can count on the support and solidarity of Poland. In the coming days, she will fly to Warsaw, where she will be able to thrive without obstacles and, if she so chooses, will receive further assistance," he wrote on Facebook.

The International Olympic Committee has said it will investigate Belarus's Olympic team over the incident, but activists have called for the country's Olympic committee to be suspended and its athletes to compete as neutrals.

Spokesman Mark Adams said Wednesday that the IOC had received a report from Belarus's Olympic committee, which was "being evaluated."

And he said the IOC has opened a disciplinary commission "to establish facts in this case".

- Activist found hanged -

NGO Global Athlete said Tsimanouskaya's "alleged kidnapping... is yet another example of the alarming athlete abuse occurring in Belarus".

Lukashenko and his son Viktor have been banned from Olympic events over the targeting of athletes for their political views.

Shortly before the Tokyo Games, Lukashenko warned sports officials and athletes that he expected results in Japan.

"Think about it before going," he said. "If you come back with nothing, it's better for you not to come back at all."

The alleged attempt to return Tsimanouskaya to Belarus has prompted condemnation, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accusing Lukashenko's government of "another act of transnational repression".

Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, sparked international outrage in May by dispatching a fighter jet to intercept a Ryanair plane flying from Greece to Lithuania to arrest a dissident onboard.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski seemed to reference that incident when he declined to confirm whether Tsimanouskaya would fly out on Wednesday as had been rumoured, citing safety.

The Olympic saga came as police in Ukraine said a missing Belarusian activist, whose NGO helps his compatriots flee the country, had been found hanged in a park in Kiev.

Police said they had opened a murder probe and would pursue all leads including "murder disguised as suicide", while activists accused authorities of "an operation... to liquidate a Belarusian who presented a true danger to the regime".

The United Nations has called on Ukrainian authorities to conduct a "thorough, impartial and effective investigation" into the death.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV News

NDTV.com provides latest news from India and the world. Get today’s news headlines from Business, Technology, Bollywood, Cricket, videos, photos, live news coverage and exclusive breaking news from India.

https://www.ndtv.com/

Related news

North Korea Says Hope Alive For Peace, Summit With South.

North Korea is willing to consider another inter-Korean summit if mutual respect between the rivals can be assured, state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday, citing Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North...

NDTV News

Experts warn of economic catastrophe if U.S. debt ceiling isn't raised

Experts warn of economic catastrophe if U.S. debt ceiling isn't raised

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell continues to hold out against raising the federal debt ceiling, and experts warn the failure to do so could result in economic catastrophe. CBS News congressional correspondent Nikole Killion and Washington...

Filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles dead at 89

Filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles dead at 89

The groundbreaking filmmaker, playwright and musician Melvin Van Peebles has died at the age of 89. CBSN's Vladimir Duthiers has more on his influential life and work. CBSN is CBS News’ 24/7 digital streaming news service featuring live, anchored ...

FDA authorizes scaled-down version of Biden's booster shot plan.

FDA authorizes scaled-down version of Biden's booster shot plan.

The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency-use authorization for booster shots of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for seniors and other people considered to be high-risk, a scaled-down version of President Biden's original plan for the additiona...

Karl Rove says Biden's record low approval rating will continue to drop.

Karl Rove says Biden's record low approval rating will continue to drop.

The Fox News contributor talks Biden’s recent poll numbers, including an approval rating of only 31% in the swing-state of Iowa. Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all...

Transgender Patients Facing Roadblocks With Insurance Companies For Gender-Affirming Care.

Transgender Patients Facing Roadblocks With Insurance Companies For Gender-Affirming Care.

Many insurance plans -- and one in five states -- have policies that exclude coverage of certain operations and therapies for transgender people. NBC News’ Jo Yurcaba reports.» Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News Digital is a c...

Cars swept away by flash floods in Spain, Almendralejo.

Cars swept away by flash floods in Spain, Almendralejo.

A car getting swept away by water as heavy flooding hit the town of Almendralejo, in the southwestern Spanish region of Extremadura. Heavy rainfalls have caused flooding in some cities of southern Spain. The city of Huelva in Andalusia and neighbo...